Conflicts & War

The Lviv refugee shelter for pregnant women

By Rostyslav Averchuk

Lviv, Ukraine, Aug 31 (EFE).- With no end to the war in sight, the Ukrainian city of Lviv is working to improve the living conditions on offer for the country’s internally displaced ahead of winter and recently opened a complex tailored to accommodate pregnant women and new mothers.

Located almost 1,000 kilometers from the front line in the country’s far-west, near the Polish border, Lviv became a major hub for Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s hostilities and although the huge waves seen at the beginning of the war have subsided, the city of 720,000 still hosts 150,000 displaced people.

While some of those internally displaced Ukrainians pay for accommodation or stay with relatives, the new shelter Nad Dzherelom (which loosely translates to “spring” or “source of water” in English) specifically caters for pregnant women or those with newborns whose husbands are often fighting on the front lines.

“They needed more comfort and could not be housed in relatively crowded dormitories or schools,” Anton Kolomeytsev, Lviv’s chief architect, tells Efe.

City authorities secured funding from the Ukrainian Red Cross and managed to build the shelter in two and a half months with the help of a company that relocated to Lviv from Odesa because of the invasion.

Two nearly identical buildings were erected on a strategically chosen location 10 minutes from a maternity hospital. Bordering a park area, they provide quiet and comfort to the women while also allowing them and their children to mingle with the locals on the newly constructed playground and lake area nearby.

Designed to house 112 people and equipped with spacious kitchens, showers and playrooms, the shelter has just started admitting its first residents. One of them is Tetiana who left a village near Starobilsk, in the Luhansk Oblast, on the insistence of her husband who has been serving in the Ukrainian border guard. The village is now occupied by Russian forces.

“I had a good job in Starobilsk but all is gone now after Russia decided to ‘liberate’ us”, says Tetiana.

She stayed in a local school for several months, and is now happy to enjoy the relative comfort of the shelter with her son Yegor. Tetiana is due to give birth again at the end of August.

Another woman, Olena, is staying in the shelter with her newborn girl Anita. She was pregnant when she stayed for nine days in a basement in Vorsel near Kyiv as the battle for Ukraine’s capital raged around.

She gave birth prematurely in Lviv. She will be staying in the shelter at least till her daughter is six months old as her husband has now been enlisted in the army.

Three container refugee shelters, built with the help of Polish partners, are located in other parts of the city, including one of its oldest parks “Stryiskyi”, and house 1,000 people. However, They will not be suitable for living in the cold winter months and the city is hurrying to provide alternatives. EFE


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